A perfectly prepared boat, great tactics and excellent work by the entire crew – this is the recipe for the success of the Polish yacht WindWhisper, which did not give its rivals a chance in the first leg of the legendary regatta The Ocean Race. For decades, the very participation of the Polish crew in this event remained only in the realm of dreams, and no one even dreamt of a stage victory. The history of Polish sailing is being written before our eyes.
On Saturday, 21 January 2023, just after 15:00 Polish time, the red hull of the yacht WindWhisper crossed the finish line near Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands. Far astern, with the red and white flag flying, five more competing VO65-class vessels raced past. The second-placed Team JAJO from the Netherlands and the third-placed Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team from Portugal still had many hours of sailing to do at this point. Interestingly, in the team from the Netherlands, an important role is played by Bouwe Bekking – a veteran of The Ocean Race – under whose tutelage the Poles sailed two years ago (then still aboard Sailing Poland) in The Ocean Race Europe.
Immediately after sealing victory, WindWhisper Racing Team skipper Pablo Arrarte did not hide his joy, despite being extremely tired.
We won the first leg of The Ocean Race. And it’s a very difficult, challenging and surprising stage. I don’t think anyone expected how brutal it would be. With wind gusts reaching 52 knots, even the smallest mistake could have cost us a great deal. Despite the extreme conditions, the whole team gave it their all and did not let us down at any point during the race. I think that with this victory we proved to everyone that combining youth and experience is a recipe for success. We have not yet said our last word. Now it’s time to take a well-deserved rest and celebrate,” said Pablo Arrarte.
Although the 42-year-old Spaniard has a wealth of experience in The Ocean Race, the current edition is his debut as an independent crew leader.
The winning WindWhisper crew is a mix of young competitors from Poland and experienced ocean sailors. A risky mix, but one that offers the chance to develop and compete with the best.